Over a thousand menstrual hygiene products were packaged and distributed throughout the university during an event held by the Young Democratic Socialists of America LBSU chapter Tuesday.
Teams comprised of members from the Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Student Association, YDSA and student volunteers met in the University Student Union to stock menstrual hygiene products in 12 restrooms around campus.
“We believe that menstrual products should be free at the point of consumption,” said Nathan York Jr., a senior political science major and YDSA secretary. “Essentially this means that while we still believe that these should be paid for in some way, they should be accessible to those who need them regardless of their income.”
In California, buyers of menstrual hygiene products are taxed due to the items being considered luxuries rather than “necessities of life.”
“This is a way, if not to fill a gap, to make an announcement that this is what we stand for and that products like this should be free especially for students,” York Jr. said.
In the months leading up the event, YDSA received donations for menstrual hygiene products and spent club funds to add to the surplus.
“It’s important to have access to these sort of products,” said Sana Sethi, a senior social work major. “I think that female-bodied people, one thing we don’t think about is the amount of money that we spend on hygiene products, which is crazy if you add all that up and then you think about how women make less too.”
In 2017, Associated Students Inc. pushed for the implementation of free accessible menstrual hygiene products in the USU and Student Recreation and Wellness Center restrooms with the Free Menstrual Hygiene Pilot Program. From September 2017 to March 2018, a sanitary supplies report found that providing free tampons and sanitary napkins in the USU and SRWC cost around $7,956.
In 2018, ASI asked the university to work toward providing free menstrual hygiene products in all campus restrooms.
The ASI Board of Directors are planning an accessibility report to identify how many restrooms throughout campus provide the products in dispensers or baskets.
Autumn Durand, a senior English literature major, described the situation she feels LBSU students are overlooking.
“I’ve never been in a bathroom that had [menstrual hygiene] products available,” Durand said. “I am a liberal arts student, so all of my classes are in the liberal arts buildings and near the library and I’ve never seen products there. There’s definitely a need that we’re filling right now.”
In addition to whether or not all restrooms on campus offer the products, the quality of the offerings have remained a concern for some.
“Often times if they are available in the bathroom and you have to pay for them, they’re really poor quality,” said Victoria Lam, a senior women’s studies major. “They don’t have much absorbency. They come in this cardboard shell that is just terrible to put inside your body.”
After completing its first event of the semester, YDSA will hold its first spring general meeting Feb. 12, at 6 p.m. in USU 202.